Ontario’s Ford Government Setting the Stage for Privatizing Province’s Health Care Services

Ford government introduces health restructuring/privatization omnibus bill 

An Analysis from Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide advocacy group for quality public health care

Posted February 27th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Health Coalition Director Natalie Mehra

Under the guise of “service coordination” the Ford government is introducing its new health care legislation today.

 Despite the rosy sounding rhetoric of the Health Minister that has focused entirely on positive-sounding words like “coordination” and “teams”, the draft legislation that was leaked a few weeks ago by a concerned civil servant to the NDP who made it public, was very clearly written to give the new “Super Agency” powers to order — with the stroke of a pen — the privatization of anything deemed a “support service” in almost all of the health care system.

Similarly, the “Super Agency” has the power to order the privatization of any procurement (not limited by definition). The Minister and the Super Agency together have powers to order transfers, closures, mega-mergers of virtually all health care providers. 

For weeks now the Minister has tried to gloss over the privatization powers in the legislation by claiming that some parts of health care are already private for-profit and then saying that patients can still use their OHIP cards.

This covers the fact that the new legislation allows the transfer and closure of public non-profit hospitals, surgeries, diagnostics, ambulance services, home care, long-term care and other services to private for-profit companies.

It invites expressions of interest from for-profit companies, including giant multinational chain corporations like Centric Health that have already expressed interest in expanding in Canada and taking over integrated health services. (A few years ago, our efforts stopped the sale of the Shouldice Hospital to Centric.)

The Minister has not at any point been up-front and honest about this. Since the leaked legislation she has not strayed from these plans. She has only defended them, obfuscated, and tried to sidetrack attention.

 

The government has carefully controlled the release of the legislation. The Minister of Health held a press conference this morning to control the spin of the messaging but would not answer any questions about the details of the legislation saying that these would have to wait for the release at 1 p.m. when it is introduced in the Legislature.

This blatant attempt to continue to hide details until it is too late for the public to have any say, for groups that understand the implications to respond effectively continues. It in an affront to democracy.

We will fight this outrageous undemocratic process and we will send out a full analysis of the legislation this afternoon. The Health Coalition will fight any attempt to privatize our public non-profit health services and to foist mega-mergers of local health services on Ontarians. 

~ Protecting Public Medicare for All ~

Ontario Health Coalition www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca

The Ontario Health Coalition is comprised of a Board of Directors, committees of the Board as approved in the Coalition’s annual Action Plan, Local Coalitions, member organizations and individual members. Currently the Ontario Health Coalition represents more than 400 member organizations and a network of Local Health Coalitions and individual members. 

Our primary goal is to protect and improve our public health care system. We work to honour and strengthen the principles of the Canada Health Act. We are led by our shared commitment to core values of equality, democracy, social inclusion and social justice; and by the five principles of the Act: universality; comprehensiveness; portability; accessibility and public administration. We are a non-profit, non-partisan public interest activist coalition and network.

To learn more about the Ontario Health Coalition and its public advocacy work, click on – www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca

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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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One response to “Ontario’s Ford Government Setting the Stage for Privatizing Province’s Health Care Services

  1. Linda McKellar

    The attempt to privatize has been going on for years, primarily by Conservative governments which have always been pro business and privatization, but contributed to by both ruling parties to some degree. It has had lousy results.

    Outsourcing food supplies – horrible meals, petrified sandwiches, all prepackaged and sent from someplace – from China for all we know. Maybe surplus airplane meals. When people are ill, nutrition is vital. Many people are hospitalized precisely because they need specific diets related to their conditions. Now many meals are as appetizing as a piece of cardboard.

    The same with housekeeping. Cleaners often are not adequately knowledgeable about isolation and disinfection procedures. Staff are cut so they are overworked, all to save money, resulting in slap dab attention to important details, dirty rooms and equipment. Patients and families have noted dirt and debris in their rooms that remained undisturbed for days. The C-difficile outbreak a couple of years ago resulted in terrible illnesses for many patients and probably contributed to some patient deaths.

    Even parking is outsourced and goes to private agencies. At the new hospital in St Catharines I have driven around the parking lot for a half hour a couple of times making me late for appointments. Drivers prowl the lot and stalk people they see who might be leaving. Great planning. Where else do people pay hundreds of dollars annually just to go to work? I know an employee who paid to park at a local mall because they couldn’t find a space.

    The government wants to create some kind of super bureaucracy to organize everything. The problem is there is already too much bureaucracy. Bureaucracy costs money. This new agency is to “coordinate and oversee everything”. Isn’t that what the Ministry of Health is supposed to be doing? Do we need another agency? More duplication, more pencil pushers and more waste? When I started nursing we didn’t have all of those layers of administration and you know what? It worked just great. Care was also more personalized because staff actually had time to CARE for patients and it cost less. Staff actually enjoyed going to work and that was reflected in the care people received. I called hospital occupants “PATIENTS”. Now they are to be called “CLIENTS”. I hate that! Another example, in my opinion, of depersonalizing those who need our care and equating health care with a business. People aren’t products and it’s not an industry. Medicine is a unique calling.

    Insurance companies have been trying to get their foot in the door since day one of Tommy Douglas’s creation. If you look back at the history of universal health care in Canada, insurance companies spread phony propaganda like manure. They still do. I think it incredibly naive to believe politicians don’t have something to gain from supporting privatization.

    What do insurance companies do? Make money for investors. They never touch a patient. In Canada we eliminate the middle man, the insurance companies. The difference between our system and the US is wholesale vs retail – the same product – lower cost. Which is more economical? Canada spends @ 12-13% of it’s GDP on health care. The US spends @16% and leaves over 20 million under or uninsured. Their health care status on a global scale ranks them 37th. Won’t it be wonderful when we have a private insurance health care system like the US where 42% of all bankruptcies are due to medical bills? More than disasters, careless spending and job loss. Something to strive for.

    A lot of people complain about waits, a perceived lack of respect, grumpy overworked staff and hallway medicine. Instead of complaining, look at the causes and do something about it. Speak up. Protest. Participate. Can the system be improved? Of course, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Universal health care is our baby and we must care for and nurture it.

    Like

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